And now time for a quick roundup of movies from my Region 2 import list that haven't yet shown up domestically. Some of these have been discussed before, but are worth mentioning periodically.
Away with Words: Funny, surreal, touching, weird, funny, poetic, beautiful, and very, very funny experimental feature from longtime Hong Kong cinematographer Christopher Doyle. Tadanobu Asano stars along with Mavis Xu and Doyle's buddy Kevin Sherlock; they're a triumvirate of oddballs in Hong Kong, each with their own peculiar derangements of the senses and soul. The Japanese DVD is loaded with fun extras, including a gut-busting longer version of the "Rapping Granny" sequence, wherein an octogenarian gets up on a nightclub stage and does her own rendition of Grandmaster Flash's "The Message".
Mind Game: My vote for the best animated film not yet available in English. A chance meeting between Nishi and an estranged girlfriend turns into an odyssey across time, space, mind, oceans, continents and memory. Yet more evidence that Japan's animation industry is rocketing into, through and out of the same fearlessly experimental territory as the most adventurous live-action movies in the West. I think DreamWorks had the option to distribute this (it was briefly in theaters), but no domestic DVD has turned up.
Shiriusu no Densetsu (Sea Prince and Fire Child): My vote for the other best animated film not yet available in English. A simple story, a mythological take on Romeo and Juliet, but told with such grace and elegance that it becomes appealing to all audiences and not just kids. The DVD has no English, but a fansubbed version has been circulating. I suspect a license tie-up with the people who brought it (very briefly) into English on VHS is preventing a re-release.
Swallowtail Butterfly: Shunji Iwai's epic three-hour pesudo-futuristic saga about ... well, a lot of things, really. Adolescence, the immigrant experience, life on the margins, crime and punishment, sin and redemption and you-name-it. Gets even better on repeat viewings, and Iwai has done nothing scarcely as good since. The DVD edition is heavily windowboxed but still quite watchable.
The Man Who Stole The Sun: What Dr. Strangelove did for nuclear war, this movie does for nuclear terrorism. Kenji Sawada stars as a schoolteacher who builds his own A-bomb and then realizes he hasn't thought out the next steps too well. Bunta Sugawara is the steel-jawed cop who goes after him, not realizing he's also a public hero who helped save a busload of schoolkids. Leonard Schrader (Paul's brother) wrote the script, and despite some dated touches it still holds up today.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind